These brands make high-quality, efficient gear, and if you don’t already know to look for them, they may not show up in your shopping and searches.
Yama Mountain Gear – shelters, packs, and accessories
Zpacks – packs and accessories
Enlightened Equipment – made-to-order quilts and apparel
Hyperlite Mountain Gear – shelters and packs
Mountain Laurel Designs – shelters, packs, and synthetic quilts
Six Moon Designs – shelters
Feathered Friends – down sleeping bags and booties
Gossamer Gear – packs
Montbell – down clothing
Western Mountaineering – sleeping bags
Vargo – titanium stakes, pots, stoves, trowels, and cleats
AntiGravityGear – rain gear
Trail Designs – alcohol stoves and wind screens
Bedrock Sandals – minimalist sandals
DeFeet – socks and gloves
Purple Rain Skirts – just awesome hiking skirts and sleeveless hiking dresses
Lightheart Gear – sleeved hiking dresses (new addition to my list in 2021)
Dirty Girl Gaiters – just awesome gaiters
Hilltop Packs – custom-printed sacks (new addition to my list in 2021)
Although not gear, I’d like to give a shout out to suppliers of great backpacking meals:
Pack-It Gourmet – my favorites are the Texas State Fair Chili and the Big’un Burrito
Good To-Go – my favorite is the Thai Curry
I also rely on brands like Patagonia, Darn Tough, Therm-a-rest, Sawyer, Nalgene, Black Diamond, Komperdell*, Altra, Sea to Summit, Anker, REI, and Garmin, but they don’t need my help getting attention.
*Update on Komperdell: I had a fantastic experience with their 3-year repair service guarantee. Komperdell will repair its poles for a period of “3 years after the initial date of production.” I bought my poles two and a half years ago, but they were already the previous year’s model. I mailed my broken pole to the US-based repair center, but I wasn’t assuming Komperdell would repair it. Not only did they repair it, they sent me the lower section for two poles, so that both would be the same. I practically have a new set of poles as a result.
Did I miss something? Add your favorite small businesses in the comments below.